Saturday, December 30, 2006

Holiday Decorations Gone Wrong (and Right!) #6-9

So Christmas has been over for almost a week but I still have a couple of horrifying photos to share.

The first isn't technically a holiday decoration, but the woman on line behind us at the bus station on the 23rd wore this sweatshirt and I'm sure she thought it was festive:
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It's a fuzzy picture because I was taking it surreptitiously while pretending to text message, but - WHAT THE HELL?? She has the face of a small animal on her chest!! I mean, it's not real (I hope) and in the photo it looks like it might be a pin, but in the flesh it seemed to be embroidered on to the shirt. It doesn't look happy, does it? And just... why?? I'd find it distracting to wear. Imagine hugging grandma hello and meeting that?


And speaking of creepy, what's up with all the super-creepy department store window displays this year? First there was the ferocious, penguin-eating lion at Macy's, and yesterday I walked by these tykes at Bloomingdales:
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"Help us! We're trapped and Santa's coming to kill us!" All the faces at Bloomingdale's are like this, Santa's included. I only took this one photo, but most of the windows feature very large, imposing figures and it's hard to tell if they're smiling or grimacing. It's truly the Most Horrifying Christmas Ever.


But in the spirit of the season, and a brighter New Year (not less judgmental, just brighter), I thought I should also show a couple photos of decorations gone right. The management company of my co-op tends to go overboard on the lobby decorations (I really don't want my maintenance fees paying for the autumnal hay bales and scarecrows), but I thought they did a lovely job with this year's tree:
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I could do without the white garland, but it's pretty and tasteful and bright and makes me - yes, even me - feel all Christmasy.

This is on 58th Street between Lexington and 3rd:
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I like everything about this unique building and its plaza, and not just because the Container Store is there. Cool architecture and a lovely tree.

Finally, my mother-in-law did a splendid job at home - and who cares what the tree looks like, look at all those presents!!
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Saturday, December 23, 2006

How Radish Stole Christmas

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Happy Holidays, everyone!

Friday, December 22, 2006

In Defense of Scrooge

A fun article from Slate.

Redundante Navidad

So I'm doing office work today, and I have the "radio" playing via Jack FM's website, and "Feliz Navidad" came on. Since it's not a real radio, I'm sort of trapped. I mean, I could turn it off, but changing the station would mean finding another website that streams on this not-always-web-media-savvy PC, or y'know, paying attention. I'm not sure I even realized it was playing until a minute or so in.

Anyway, here's the point: How have I never noticed, amid my past rants about bad Christmas music, that "Feliz Navidad" is the most repetitive and annoying song ever written? Seriously, it's worse than "Wonderful Christmas Time." It's more relentless than "I Got My Mind Set On You." (So sorry to single out two former Beatles there.) Even "99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall" has clear and definite end point.

"Feliz Navidad" consists solely of "Feliz Navidad [3x] prospero año y felicidad," and "I wanna wish you a merry Christmas [3x] from the bottom of my heart," over and over and over again. Two lines. There's no discernable verse or chorus, no bridge, no key change or build in vocals or change in the singer's delivery. It's just those two lines, repeated... well, I lost count of how many times as my brain went completely numb. Every time there was a bit of a swell on "heeeaaaaaaarrrrt," I thought it was over, but nope, it just looped around to the beginning again like the world's worst ringtone.

Surely Latino Americans deserve a better Christmas anthem than this?



(I know I've been light on the substantive posts lately. I have a couple of ideas on the back burner, including an update on how I've been keeping myself busy for the three of you who care about such things, so check back next week!)

Friday, December 15, 2006

OW

In case anyone was wondering, working out with a personal trainer fucking HURTS.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Holiday Decorations Gone Wrong #5

Santa Claus is rescued from certain doom by the NYFD. This is what happens when you arrive 15 days early, fat man!

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Holiday Decorations Gone Wrong #4

We're watching you....

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Holiday Decorations Gone Wrong #3

The teddy bears' holiday picnic ended in tragedy and carnage.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Holiday Decorations Gone Wrong #2

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Heil Santa!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

My Job is (still) Weird

One of the tricky things about working in the entertainment business is the way your work can affect your ability to actually be entertained. For example, the composer of my current show is a moderately successful pop singer-songwriter (and if that's not a giveaway, I don't know what is... um, don't look at the sidebar). The other day his major hit came on the radio, and I just started to giggle. I was never a fan, but I've always liked the song, only now I can't reconcile the guy I work with every day with the guy singing on my radio.

And I'm low on the totem pole at this job – I don't know Singer Songwriter well at all. Imagine how much weirder it is when an actual friend is singing on my iPod, or shows up on Law and Order making out with some girl. (Especially when the friend is gay-g-g-gay-gay-gay.) Of course it's not just friends. I think I'm supposed to think that guy didn't kill his wife, and be sad when he goes to jail. But if you knew him like I do, you'd know he totally did it.

It works both ways. Nothing like meeting a coworker for the first time and thinking, "I've seen you naked." Or worse, "You were in Patch Adams." I guess this happens in "normal" jobs too; there's a new hire who you've heard stories about from friends, maybe even something drunken and embarrassing from college. But probably not in Us Weekly. (God help me if I ever work with Britney Spears.)

When things are good (and I've been lucky that they generally have for me) you stop thinking of stars as stars and they just become coworkers, or better, friends. Or, better still, your friends become stars. But it can still be an unpleasant surprise to see your friend's ass on TV.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Jury Doodie

So I got a jury duty summons that begins, conveniently, the day after my current job ends. Since I think jury duty is important, and I usually have a legitimate reason to try to get out of it, this seemed like a good thing.

Okay, problem number one: It's federal court in Brooklyn. I live in Queens, and although these two boroughs are on the same land mass, the "fastest" and "easiest" way to get where I'm going, short of buying a car, is to ride a train across the East River, into Manhattan, and back across the East River to Brooklyn. This means I'll be riding past the Queens and Manhattan courthouses along the way, at which points I may cry.

But there's good news! I'm only an alternate, and technology has advanced since the last time I had jury duty so that I only have to show up if they decide they need me. I just phone in after 5:00 on the business day before I'm called, and the lovely robot voice tells me if I'm needed. I'm off the hook for Monday.

But here's the thing: Because this is federal jury duty, I'm on call for two weeks. Two frakkin' weeks! How is someone supposed to plan a life, or, you know, a job? Unless I end up on a trial, I will never know what I'm doing the next business day until after 5 pm. This means I can't call a temp agency to try to get a gig. It means I can't make any plans at all. For two weeks! How do people do this? Even if I had a job job this seems unreasonable. "Hey boss, I might be in tomorrow, might not! Sorry, blame the feds!"

I'm all for doing my civic duty, but how many people really have jobs that pay them when they go on jury duty? There has to be a better system so that freelancers and hourly employees can do the right thing without getting screwed.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Holiday Decorations Gone Wrong #1

What are the people at Macy's smoking?
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The caption on this window has something to do with peace, and I get that the lion is supposed to lie down with the lamb (there's a lamb downstage-right of the lion, but my shitty cameraphone didn't pick it up well against the white background), but that penguin is totally gonna get eaten, right before the freakish little elf boy gets trampled by the elephant (also hard to see in my 1 MP photo).

There are little touch-sensitive panels on the window that make the animatronics do things. That's a good idea — lure small children as close to the glass as possible, then make the lion open its mouth to the size of their heads and roar at them. Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Revelations from a shuffling iPod

Victor Garber has played both Jesus and Satan.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

My cat's breath smells like cat food

I remember a cartoon – probably several – from when I was a kid – Garfield or Heathcliff or Marmaduke or whatever – in which an animal comes running from like a mile away when he hears a can opener. This always struck me as very silly – aren't dogs and cats all about smell? – but in fact Radish comes running if I so much as touch a pouch of wet food or trats (but not, say, a bag of Craisins). He's apparently learned the sound of those specific plastic crinkles.

He also gets very friendly if we open a can of tuna or salmon, but not beans or corn, so I figured that one was about smell. But last week I popped a can of chicken to make some chicken salad, and suddenly Radish was rubbing all over my legs like the whore that he is. I tried to explain to him that I didn't have what he thought I had, but that didn't work 'cause, well, he's a cat. Well, he likes chicken-flavored cat food, I thought, and I put a small piece of it in his bowl. He sniffed at it, then gave me a look that would have clearly said "What the fuck is this supposed to be?" even if I didn't project and over-anthropomorphize. I suppose it's for the best that we don't have a cat who'll eat anything, but I do sort of wish he were easier to please.

Today I took one step closer to becoming one of those cat people. I gave him his weekly wet food a few days early as a holiday treat. I can't tell the difference between "Turkey Dinner in Gravy" and any of the other varieties, except that it smells less fishy, but it seemed appropriate for Thanksgiving. You know, as if he has any idea. It's probably just as well he doesn’t like cranberry sauce.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Relaxicab

Though I accept it as part of the nature of my job, I sometimes resent having to work on the holidays. No, that's not it – I resent other people who get to enjoy their holidays, oblivious to the fact that lots of other folks are working.

But today I'm sort of thrilled by the whole thing. Today is my first day off after a week and a half of 14-hour days, and I'm just so happy to have it that I couldn't care less about having to go back to work tomorrow. In fact, I found myself feeling completely smug about my indifference to the holiday. I went grocery shopping this morning, and the store was crowded for a Wednesday, but not appallingly so. Later on at the liquor store, things were worse, but it didn't get to me. Everyone else had an air of panic about them, rushing to accomplish things before going away, or stock up for their own dinners (or booze for coping with the in-laws), but I just breezed through my day. I had an urge to shout, "I'm taking this wine home to drink by myself while I catch up on TV, suckers!"

Tomorrow I'll have dinner out with Mom (Boy's away with his family) and then go to work, refreshed and relaxed. Now that's something to be thankful for.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Uninvited Guests

This is sort of an embarrassing thing to broadcast on the blog, but I'm hoping for some advice. So I'm both glad I have so few readers and wishing I had more.

We have a minor roach problem in the apartment. Bugs don't generally freak me out, provided they leave me alone. And a roach or two in an apartment building (especially when we're lazy about doing the dishes) is to be expected. But lately we've had what I consider to be a higher-than-normal amount. Not like some kind of horrific Creepshow infestation, but I see a few each day, and I do not like that. I did a big take-everything-out-of-the-drawers-and-cabinets clean of the kitchen, and then set out new Combat baits, which have always worked for me in the past. Hardly any change. I moved on to the Combat gel, which actually seems to have made the problem worse.

An exterminator comes to the building once a month, and judging by the full sign-up sheet in the lobby we're not the only ones having this problem (which helps me not feel like a slob, and also gives me yet another reason to hate my neighbors). But I've always been wary of airborne insecticides, which don't seem terribly healthy, and now that we have the cat, I really don't want any industrial poison in the house. But I don't want roaches either.

So, anyone have any suggestions? Kill the roaches but not me or the kitten, preferably without having to take my whole kitchen apart? Something organic, perhaps?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Pull my lever

Having only ever voted in NYC and by absentee ballot, I honestly never realized before 2000 that not everyone in country used these:
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When I was little, I'd go with my mom when she voted, and she'd let me flick the switches for her. I simply believed this was how voting worked everywhere. The big, bulky machines certainly feel secure, with the firm click of each voting switch, the satisfying chunk of the big lever when you finish. And none of the vote-count problems in recent years have happened in states that use them. I read somewhere recently that these old machines are very difficult to maintain and replace, and will have to be phased out soon. That makes me sad. Those levers and switches make me feel like I'm part of something much older and bigger than me in a way that touch screens never will. Though given the events of the last few years, maybe it's best that that illusion is shattered.

With all the hubbub around this election (by the way, Yay!), it was a little weird to walk into the voting booth and realize I had no idea what was going on locally. We get political ads for three states in the city, and I've been tuning them all out for weeks. Big races in other states have gotten more press. I kinda forgot I was voting on a new governor, though at least I was familiar with both candidates from their prior jobs and campaigns. I was most embarrassed to discover that I had never heard of Hillary Clinton's opponent. I'm guessing neither of them bothered to campaign much in the expensive and extremely blue NYC area, focusing their efforts upstate. But, really, I had no idea.

Oh well. I cast my vote for change, and change won. And I got to do it on the cool Democracy Machine.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Breaking News!

How sad is it that today is election day, and the top story on CNN.com is Britney Spears' divorce?

Hob-nobbing among the elite

Tonight I worked at a very schmancy old-NYC-money charity event. So schmancy that none of my friends and colleagues I mentioned it to had even heard of the charity, or the venue at which the event was held. It's a perfectly worthy cause, but not the sort that will be sending you free return address labels and asking for 25 bucks this holiday season. It's not my world.

There was a performance element to the evening, and that’s why I was there – brought in by an actor-director friend to stage manage, which here meant some brief liaising with the lighting and sound people, calling three cues, and getting an actress a cup of tea. Easy, easy money. Oh yes, I got paid, and very well. Charity or not, people this rich don't expect you to volunteer.

My part of things went very smoothly, and was a big hit with the crowd (though all the botox made it difficult for them to laugh). I got to meet a couple of actors I admire, and a very influential producer. I should have left it there.

The organizer of the evening, a very sweet, down-to-earth woman who I'd liked from our first meeting, asked me to stay for dinner. The first time she mentioned it, a few days ago via email, I made noise about possibly having another commitment, but when she asked again tonight it seemed rude to say no. And really who am I to turn down a free rich-people meal? They want to pay me and feed me? Twist my arm!

The food (and wine, and coffee) was splendid. The company...not so much. I was seated at a table with other people involved with the show, but between us were patrons. I guess the idea was to impress them with the stars so they'd give more money, but I was of course completely unrecognizable and had nothing to contribute to the conversation. I was also underdressed. I recently purchased an inexpensive (though far more money than I am wont to spend on clothes) but perfectly passable suit specifically because I've been working more and more charity and corporate events. It's great for standing in the back of the room by the light board, but entirely inappropriate for sitting down to dinner when every other man in the room is in a tux. I mean, they might have mentioned that when they extended the invitation for me to stay. I felt awkward and obvious enough as it was.

But okay, so there I was at dinner with the rich WASPs. On my left was a woman who happened to have an unusual and recognizable last name. Turned out her sister is a TV star. Beyond that vague connection to the arts, we had nothing to talk about. She kept asking me questions about what I do, but they weren't smart questions and she didn't seem all that interested in the answers. I tried steering the topic to her, but she didn't want to reveal much on that front either. Colleges came up, and she asked when I was at mine, and when I told her she acted like I was 20 years younger than her. She also mentioned having been at her firm for 25 years. This woman looked to be in her 30s, and she looked nothing like her sister. True, the lights were dim, but if work had been done, it was awfully good.

I wish the same could be said for the dead animal around her shoulders. Now, I'm against wearing fur in general, and for many reasons, but topping the list is that it's fucking creepy. Seriously, what would possess a woman to kill a fox and just drape it over her shoulders? Around her neck I could maybe understand, but it's not like this thing was keeping her warm. And it had a head. And its head was pointing at me. It's beady little glass eyes staring at me all through dinner. It was seriously disturbing.

Though not quite as disturbing as the woman on my right. This lady looked more or less her age (60s, I'm guessing), though in that artificial way of old-school cosmetic surgery. Nothing really moved properly. It was a wonder she could speak at all, the corners of her mouth were so tight. She had very nice, well-styled grey hair, and I thought what a shame it was that she might have been one of those beautiful, stately older women if she'd cared to be. Of course it was also a shame that she was dumb as a bag of rocks. Or maybe (since this crowd was doing so well at living up to all the stereotypes) she was just too drugged or drunk to speak intelligently. There was an amazing naïveté, and it was clear to me that this was a woman who had never needed to be smart, or even to think for herself. It was almost sad. Except for the way she kept trying to talk to me.

Oh, and the homos. Sad little society homos, forced to marry women so they'd get their inheritances. Let's not even talk about it.

There were several young-ish people there (though after my experience with the TV star's sister I have to wonder how true that is) and it took me by surprise. This kind of money and the events that go with it feel very old-fashioned to me. We were in a building designed and built in New York's golden age of Morgans and Whitneys and Carnegies. It's hard to imagine that still exists, and somehow when the people are old (though of course they're not that old) it makes sense. But of course they had children, and the society – real, old-school society, not the Paris Hilton kind – continues to this day.

I don't have a witty ending here. I'm sort of disheartened. It was an awkward evening. But I'm also excited to go back to my Broadway show tomorrow – it's a small one, relatively speaking, and it feels a little like art. I'm happy to sell out as a general rule, but on a night like tonight it's nice to know I'm somewhere I belong doing something I believe in, and I don't have to wear a tie. And hey, when I get the rich-people-charity's check in the mail, I'll cash it with a smile.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

People who need People

Of course I think it's great that celebrities keep coming out of the closet, even if they're not exactly A-list, even if it wasn't exactly on their own terms, and even if no one's exactly surprised. As far as we've come, we still live in a world where people have trouble accepting a gay actor playing straight, but a straight actor playing gay wins an Oscar. (And a gay actor playing gay "won't discuss his personal life.")

But why People magazine? Lance Bass, TR Knight and Neil Patrick Harris have all gone to People with their announcements of gaydom. Couldn't they have picked a slightly classier news source? CNN has a website too, you know. Or better yet, Fox News!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Quick Crank

Sorry I've haven't posted in a while. The new job has been tiring me out with 10+ hour days. Not in a bad way – loving my job and most of my coworkers and there's an end in sight to the long hours – but in a when-I-come-home-I-just-want-to-have-a-glass-of-wine-and-pet-the-cat-and-the-boy-and-watch-an-hour-of-TV-and-go-to-bed-and-don't-even-think-about-blogging way. But I have time today for a brief inventory of crankiness....


It's only November 2nd, and I'm already sick of Christmas. Seriously, you guys, what the fuck? The stores are decorated, the commercials have started, and my mom asked for my wish list yesterday. I'm all about getting the shopping done early, but the holiday season isn't special if it lasts three months. Thanks, American Retailers!

Also, I'm sick of it being 70 degrees out. This is certainly not helping it feel at all like Chrismukah. It's not that I actually like the cold, it's just that it's autumn in New York and I'm ready for it. Thanks, American Polluters!

I'm sick of people who don't know how to use their computers. I'm not saying you should know how to fix your computer, or write elaborate formulas in Excel, but I'm surrounded by people barely know how to turn the thing on. And they have Macs! When I spend 2 grand on something, I take a few minutes to read the manual. Everyone should know how to adjust basic preferences, add a printer, burn a CD, and get on to an unprotected wireless signal. It's not that hard. Thanks, um, technologically inept people?

Sigh, even my ranting has lost steam. Thanks, really awesome but tiring job!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

So... much... TV...

I'm a little late with my reviews of the new TV season. I wanted to give the new shows a couple of episodes to settle in before passing judgments (pilots can be tricky) but then I got busy and didn't have time to watch, much less write. I'm mostly caught up now, so here's an update on what I'm watching from my original list, in the order in which they premiered. I'll try to be brief!

The Simpsons. How long has this show been on? Does no one think it's time to let it go? It doesn't suck, but it's just not that funny or interesting anymore. Status: I'll watch it if I'm home and there's nothing else on.

Family Guy. Still makes me laugh out loud, no matter how cheap it is. Status: DVR.

Desperate Housewives. It's way better than last season, but I can't quite get behind it anymore. When did it become a comedy? There's always been humor (and it's involved Teri Hatcher falling down and been completely annoying), but the first season was also genuinely creepy and often moving. Now it seems like every character has a "wacky" plotline, each of them hateful. Still, I can't look away. I want it to get better again, and I like Felicity Huffman and Marcia Cross so much, so I'm sticking with it for a few more weeks. Status: DVR...for now.

The Class. All the critics seem to hate this show but I find it very amusing and charming. Don't get me wrong, it's a total mess (absurd premise, too many characters, too many unconnected plots) but I like the cast (especially the mean girl) and it makes me laugh. And now Sara Gilbert! I suspect it won't be around much longer, so I might as well watch it while I can. Status: DVR.

How I Met Your Mother. I still like it, though it's getting a little repetitive. Status: DVR.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I like it, and I don't care what anyone else says. It's no West Wing or Sports Night, but I'll take a mediocre Aaron Sorkin script over what passes for dialogue on Six Degrees any day. And I love the cast. I do wish it were less about somehow saving television, and more about interesting people doing an interesting job, but Sports Night took a while to find its footing too (remember the laugh track?), and The West Wing was originally supposed to be about Rob Lowe, so let's all calm down and give this one a chance, okay? Status: DVR.

Heroes. I fucking hate this show. I hate it on its own, and I hate it even more because I can't stop watching it. I'm watching it right now and my hostility is growing. The writing is horrible ("give me a chance to catch my breath before you take it away again?" kill me), and I don't like a single character. At best they're boring, at worst they're horrible people. In between there's all manner of whiny, grating, and just plain dumb. I'm confused by people's powers; are they genetic or supernatural? (I ask mostly 'cause the whole mysteriously-drawn-together-to-save-the-world thing is very The Stand. Then there's that magic comic book.) If it's the latter, what's the point of the narrating doctor? (Really, what's the point of all the narrating? Let's lock Mohinder in a room with Meredith Grey and see who drops first.) Why does Hiro's power (and seriously, writers, you're so lazy that you actually named a character hero??) apparently involve him taking a massive crap in his pants every time he uses it? Is Ali Larter's multiple personality disorder really a power, per se? Isaac supposedly lives in Lower Manhattan, but from the looks of the (beautifully painted) view out his window I'd say he lives on the Statue of Liberty. So, yeah, lots of hate. But here I am, watching it every week. I'm still just interested enough to want to know where it's all going. Plus, these guys are the season's absolute masters of the cliffhanger twist ending. Usually by about 45 minutes in, I'm saying I won't watch it again, and then the immortal cheerleader is waking up on an autopsy table with a Y-incision and I'm forced to tune in next week. Status: DVR, damn you!!

House. I've always liked House in small doses, focusing on the medical wackiness of the week, not the characters' emotional issues. I'd heard good things so I checked it out again this season, but I'm still not all that interested. Status: Watch when I'm home and there's nothing else on.

Standoff. The pilot was surprisingly good. I was literally on the edge of my seat for much of it. But I wondered how long they could keep it up before they ran out of new hostage situations. Based on episode two, I'd say not long at all. Status: Maybe I'll watch when I'm home and there's nothing else on.

Justice. I'll watch Victor Garber do anything, but wow, this show is boring. Another pilot that showed promise (I especially liked the gimmick of showing what really happened at the end), but all the CGI in the world can't convince me that research and jury selection are exciting to watch. Status: Maybe I'll watch when I'm home and there's nothing else on.

Jericho. Like Heroes, it's not very good, but I'm interested in it anyway. The opening had moments of awesomeness, and I want to learn more. It's like a mopier version of The Day After. I feel like I’m watching a little too much that’s mediocre right now though, so if it doesn’t improve soon I’ll probably dump it. Status: DVR for now.

Lost. I'd kind of lost interest last season, but they've really grabbed me back this year. I lost patience with the flashbacks, not just because they didn’t seem to be advancing the plot at all (though that was part of it), but because they were boooooring. I felt that frustration again watching Jack go crazy last week (really Jack, nobody cares), but I’m digging the Others and the new puzzle pieces. I don’t mind unanswered questions as long as the new ones are interesting. Though I would like some closure on the monster and the polar bear! Status: DVR.

The Nine. Haven’t watched it yet. Status: Filling up the DVR.

30 Rock. Ugh! I’ll give it another shot, because I like Tina Fey and Jane Krakowski, but UGH! The pilot was annoying and cliché-ridden, and seemed to be only funny by accident. Tracy Morgan is irritating under the best of circumstances, and these are not the best of circumstances. It’s bad when the commercials for a show (which featured Fey and Alec Baldwin doing bits, not scenes from the show itself) are funnier than the pilot. Come back to SNL, Tina, they clearly need you desperately! Status: One more chance to not suck.

Project Runway. Something odd has happened – I don’t watch any more reality TV except Runway. It took me a little while to get into this season (I spent the reunion show thinking, “Who are these people?”) but once about half the designers were gone I got totally hooked. Yes, there’s reality show fakery and bitchiness and manufactured interpersonal issues, but ultimately these people have to have the skills to make something, and that’s what I (and most critics) find so appealing about it. It’s not underwater relay races or eating bugs or even voting by the fickle American public – they have to actually deliver the goods. Status: Over tonight! :-(

Six Degrees. Wow. Painful. I gave it two episodes, figuring it was unfair to judge a pilot with so much setup, but I couldn’t make it through the second one. What a boring bunch of people! And it’s more like one degree, apparently. Bleah. Status: Off the list.

Ugly Betty. More like Boring Betty. A real critic – you know, one who gets paid for it – somewhere said it's like a telenovela crossed with an afterschool special, and I can't put it any better than that. I'm all for camp, but shouldn't it actually be funny? And I'm all for heartwarming drama, but shouldn't it actually be heartwarming and dramatic? And shouldn't Betty actually be ugly? I know it's TV, but America Ferrara is not ugly. Betty just needs to go on What Not To Wear and she'll be fine. The braces will come off eventually. I also hate that the show perpetuates the image of Queens as some sort of no-man's-land hundreds of miles from Manhattan. People, Queens is a huge borough. In any other metropolitan area it would be a good-sized county. I get the impression that Betty lives way out in the more suburban area (think Archie Bunker and Raymond), but the western side is right across the river from Manhattan, and it’s not like some backwater. Status: Off the list.

Battlestar Galactica. Frak, yeah! If you’re not watching this show, you need to be. From the beginning. Get over the title. Get over the network. Accept that this is the best show on television. It’s a political thriller, a war drama, a sexy soap, and it’s dark. Watch it, watch it, watch it. Status: Frakkin’ obsessed.


We’ve also been watching Brothers and Sisters, mostly ‘cause we’re too lazy to change the channel or move after Housewives. I didn’t think I’d like it, and I was right, but it’s vaguely interesting background noise. Boy likes that it’s actually about brothers and sisters, and finds those relationships realistic, so maybe I just can’t appreciate it as an only child. Mostly I can’t figure out everything that’s going on or if I’m supposed to care, but maybe if I stay lazy I’ll figure it out eventually.

And I’m newly hooked on Grey’s Anatomy, but I’m still planning to write a separate post about all the TV I watched on DVD at the end of the summer, so more on that later.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Frakking Nerds

In the past week I've used the word "Frak" spontaneously and unironically at least a dozen times.

I may need to watch less Battlestar Galactica.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

It's October 8...

...why the FUCK is there Christmas stuff at the drug store???

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Moon Over Queens

I worked a little later than usual (by day job standards) this week, and October in New York City has been giving us some truly spectacular skies, so I'd planned to bring my camera to the office today to take advantage of the views at dusk. Of course, I forgot it, so I have only these sad cell phone pics to offer.

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That's the full moon up there, not a smudge.

100506_19091
This one makes me sad. I've definitely got to start carrying my real camera. That sky is red.


I'm starting a new job tomorrow, so the blogging will probably get even more sporadic for the next few weeks. I'll do what I can!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

My world is shattered

Apparently, it's not actually a problem to end a sentence with a prepositon.

What is the world coming to?

Lemme Axe You Something

I'm not a big fan of perfume. This includes other things with perfume in them. I'm not allergic or anything, and unless you've bathed in it I don't mind it on other people, but I generally use unscented soap and unscented laundry detergent, and that still leaves me smelling like shampoo, hair goop, baby powder and deodorant, all of which are pretty mild.

Or used to be. I've been using Degree deodorant for as long as I can remember. I rotate through a few scents, based purely on what's in stock when I'm shopping, and they're all pretty gentle. There's "Sheer Powder," which smells like baby powder, which I have on anyway. And "Fresh Oxygen," which smells like... oxygen? I have no idea. Anyway, they smell just enough to keep me from being stinky. And now they seem to have been discontinued, unless you're a woman. I accidentally bought the women's version of one of them once, and it was actually different - a stronger, more flowery scent. Plus I don't know if there's anything to that whole "PH balanced for a woman" thing Secret has going on, but I'd rather stick to the products made for me.

Trouble is, all the products made for me have names like "Extreme Blast," "Cool Rush," and "Sport Scent" (what is sport supposed to smell like?). I literally spent ten minutes in the drug store the other day sniffing deodorant and found only one (Arm and Hammer Powder Fresh) that didn't make me want to vomit. But now that I'm actually wearing it I feel like I'm inhaling flowery baking soda.

Listen up, deodorant manufacturers: If I wanted the Axe Effect, I'd fucking buy Axe. I want to sweat less and be unstinky, not make people's eyes water when I walk by, or overpower the smell of my meal. Is this unusual? Am I really the only man who feels this way? Based on the deodorant aisle of the drug store, I'd have to say yes. The world is a very stinky place.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Felicitous

I shouldn't watch Felicity reruns first thing in the morning. I get too worked up. It'll all end so badly, Felicity! You'll barely work after graduation, and Ben will be attacked by spandex-clad werewolves. Noel, who you've forsaken, will end up marrying Sydney Bristow, but, when he fails to get his movie made, will kill Julia Salinger's friends. Sydney will leave him for the hotter but still sensitive and attentive Michael Vaughn, breaking Noel's heart yet again. Then she'll leave him, inexplicably, for Daredevil and their baby will have a complex about not being as famous as Suri Cruise. Ben's best friend, meanwhile, will join the CIA, but after falling in love with a comatose zombie will get a job as a commercial pilot and be eaten by an unseen monster after crashing on a desert island, and eventually develop superpowers. And the Pink Ranger will never be heard from again, leaving Japan totally defenseless from giant low-budget monsters. See what you've wrought, Felicity???

Of course it's possible that I'm mixing up fiction and reality again.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Square Pegs

So we got a rug for the office to appease our downstairs neighbors. It seems to be the most problematic room for their noise issues (it's a bedroom for them, we have rolly chairs and a tendency to sit in them after midnight), and it's the room we care least about design-wise (it's sort of our catch-all, whatever-doesn't-have-a-home-elsewhere-goes-in-here room) so it's the best compromise for everyone. We got something very simple and plain, and, resistant to the idea as I was, I actually really like the way it looks in the room.

The room is a tricky size, and standard rug dimensions were making us unhappy for a while, but we figured out a way to make all the furniture work (nothing half off and half on the rug) with a border around the rug (yay, we can still see the wood!) and ordered something. So here's the thing: The room is 8 feet, 2 inches wide. The rug is supposed to be 8 feet wide. Only it's not. It's at least 8'5". Given the nature of the room, we're sucking it up and letting it curl up a little on one side. The edge of the rug comes right to the top of the baseboard, so it could almost look deliberate. I mean, in a fucked up world where people carpet their baseboards.

But it's the principle of the thing that pisses me off. Why on earth would you sell something with a size on it if it's not actually that size? Do they think these things don't matter? I mean, it has to fit in a room! 5 inches is a lot, all things considered.

I just hope those bitches downstairs appreciate all of this.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Little Boxes

I didn't think I'd enjoy watching video on the iPod. If there were a 40+ GB, non-flash-memory iPod without video right now, I would have bought it. I'd experimented with video on the PSP, and it was surprisingly good, but about as small as I thought I'd want to go. Especially since that has a wide screen and didn't require letterboxing, which would make things even smaller. The other thing is I refuse to pay to download television. I pay too much for cable as it is. I can see how it's a good option for a lot of people, but $2 a show for something I can catch on the DVR is too much for me. And if I want to own a movie, chances are I'd rather own the DVD with all the extras than just a download.

And yet....

There were some free shows on iTunes when I got my new 'Pod, and I was even interested in a couple of them so I checked them out, just to see what TV on the iPod looked like. It wasn't so bad. Not really good for anything dark (unless you're going to watch in a pitch black room) or anything really quiet (unless you're going to watch somewhere with little ambient noise), but for a sitcom or music video or something I've already seen, it was perfectly tolerable. What really put me over the edge was Weeds; I'd gotten hooked on the first season through Netflix, but season two is currently on and we don't get Showtime, so I had to download. Then I realized that a half-hour TV show is really 22-25 minutes, which makes it ideal to watch during cardio at the gym. NYSC has those little TVs but there's usually nothing good on, and I really like being distracted from the fact that I'm exercising. So just sit the iPod on top of the machine and bam, personal TV.

Once I realized I liked doing this, it was all over. I have a stack of DVDs I bought but haven't watched, and I started to rip them for the iPod. (I could have done this with the PSP too, but that only has 1 GB of memory, would mean yet another device to carry, and see above re: the gym.) The first project was Season 1 of The Muppet Show, which is ideal in every way for the gym. Who cares if I'm sweaty and miserable, who can be unhappy when there are muppets and 70s C-list stars? I've now moved on to movies, some with commentary tracks. Since I'm ripping things only for the iPod, the files can actually be quite small (as opposed to Apple's movie downloads which are meant to be watched - if you want to - on a larger screen), so I won't fill up my iPod or my computer. Though I'll probably delete most stuff as I watch it anyway, since the point is just to watch it on the go, not to have it in my pocket forever. Though I did put Star Wars on the 'Pod, just because I could.

I'm sure I had a point to this post when I started it, but it's been that kind of a day. Anyway, yeah, technology good. Muppets even better.

Blogging about blogging. How very 2004.

My third bloggiversary came and went unnoticed on September 7th. Unnoticed by me, I mean, I wouldn't expect anyone else to notice. Completely coincidentally, this is my 700th post, which boggles (bloggles?) my mind a little bit. When I started this I didn't think I had that much to say. (Some would say I actually didn't.)

I switched to the beta of the new and improved Blogger, primarily so I could add category labels to posts, something I've wished I could do for a while. So I've been looking at old posts as I go through and label the archives. A lot of it is better than I thought, if I do say so myself! It's also reminded me of the importance of keeping a journal offline too, since I keep coming across things I'd completely forgotten (I seem to have raved about several short-lived TV shows I no longer remember even existing), and it's nice to be reminded of things I did or thought or said.

All the back-editing has had the side-effect of artificially inflating my Sitemeter stats, because whenever you update your blog it gets put into the rotation of random sites accessed by the Blogger NavBar at the top of the screen. By editing old posts all day long, I'm apparently keeping it in there a lot. I got really excited for a minute when I thought I had 60 real hits in a day! Oh well. Hi to any new visitors, and thanks to the 5 or 10 regulars. I'd like it if more people read The JC, I guess. What's the point of doing this publicly instead of just emailing my friends if only my friends read it? Plus more hits are good for my ego. But I've learned in three years that I just enjoy the act of blogging, the excuse to write and teach myself some HTML, so I'm still here.

Speaking of HTML, and back to the Blogger Beta: they've added this cool new interface so that customizing your template and adding things to your sidebar is a breeze, and doesn't require messing around with code. Unfortunatly, I now can't mess around with the code (not sure if it's actually impossible or if it's just too new-fangled for me to understand), so I only have control over the things Blogger gives me control over. And as you know, I'm a control freak, so I haven't switched to one of the new templates yet.

I also can't get Haloscan comments to work in the new templates, so if anyone knows how to do that please let me know. I seem to lose a big chunk of my archives when I turn on Blogger's built-in commenting system (which didn't exist back when I started). Plus, I don't want to lose all the old comments anyway by ditching Haloscan. So that's a big thing keeping me from making the full switch.

You know me, I just love a new toy. And I'm temping, so having something to play with all day in front of the computer is a damn good thing!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tickle This!

This might be the creepiest thing I've ever seen.

I know I've long said that robots would take over the world, but I just figured they'd be more like Cylons and less like retarded muppets.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Yay!

I'm in the Blogger Beta! And what perfect timing, too, with my booooring temp job! Look for post labels to start appearing, and maybe I'll even switch over to one of the snazzy new templates.

God, I need a life....

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Netflix Stalking

During my time off I spent some serious quality time with my Netflix Queue, so I really enjoyed this article about Netflix Friends and wanted to share it.

My own queue (and my Amazon wishlist) is simply a repository for anything I might ever want to watch someday, and it's massive. When I read about something in Entertainment Weekly it goes on one of those lists. It's easier than remembering it later on. I reorder my queue all the time, moving the things I really want to watch to the top, so that a disc can sit at #10, patiently waiting for me to allow it to come home, for years.

I shudder to think what a casual observer might make of my Netflixation. But I always say yes to Netflix Friends because I want to see their queues too!

More iGripes

When you play podcasts via the Podcast menu on the iPod, it will play the single podcast you've selected, then jump back to the main menu. I'm not sure who thought this was a good idea. Most of my podcasts are less than 5 minutes long, and when I'm in the mood to listen to people talking instead of to music, it's for more than 5 mintues. Having to dig out the iPod, navigate back to the podcasts and find the next one while on a crowded subway, walking in the rain, washing dishes, cleaning the apartment, or at the gym, (or, I would imagine, driving), is highly inconvenient.

There was a simple workaround: Make a Smart Playlist in iTunes with all your podcasts ("Podcast is true"), perhaps eliminating some that you don't want to listen to in this manner ("Name does not contain ____" or "Album does not contain ____"), and you've got a playlist that the iPod treats just like any other, playing it through, shuffling it, whatever. When you sync, iTunes still knows you've listened to a podcast and updates it accordingly. (It's a Smart Playlist as opposed to a manual one, so that newly downloaded 'casts are added automatically.)

For those of you with older iPods, this trick will still work. Apparently, though, Tuesday's software update "fixed" it. My iPod now treats a podcast as a standalone track no matter where I source it from. So after two minutes of Bill Maher or thirty seconds of The Onion Radio News, I have to go find the next one, instead of it just playing automatically.

Why would they do this? And do any of you geeks out there know of a new workaround, or something in the settings I might be missing?

(Also, when is Blogger going to let me in to the Beta so I can start tagging posts and those of you who don't care about this can just start skipping anything marked "geek?")


Update: The old playlist apparently works if the iPod is not set to Shuffle. Not really what I want, since listening to many NPR podcasts in a row can get really tedious really fast, but it's something. Any track I select from the playlist with the iPod set to shuffle (either songs or albums) comes up as "1 of 1" and throws me back to the main menu when it's done. It's a puzzlement!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

iBleah

I'm hating the new version of iTunes. I hate that I can't view my entire Library (music, video, podcasts, etc.) all at once (I mean, not even multiple video types together?), I hate that the new headings take up so much space in the sidebar, and I hate the overall design - that baby blue background in the store, the weird overuse of capital letters ("EXCLUSIVELY ON iTunes"), all the fake shiny. What's with the new shiny glossy screen trend anyway? On things that are meant to be carried around and not used in places where one can control the lighting? The reflections off my iPod and PSP screens (not to mention the fingerprints) drive me nuts. Why has Apple decided to make iTunes mimick this on my wonderfully easy-to-read matte Powerbook? is this what we can expect everything to look like in Leopard or Ocelot or whatever?

The new iPod summary screen is cool, if essentially useless. Ditto Cover Flow. Sure, it looks neat, but what's the point? "You can flip through your digital music and video collection the same way you flip through CDs." Well, but not really, 'cause my CDs have spines and I can view many at a time. So, pretty but slow and with no real function. (Now Cover Flow in the store would be handy. Remember going to a used CD store and picking something up just because the cover caught your eye? Sadly, many of you probably don't. But I do. Hey Somerville kids, is Disc Diggers even still there?)

Oh, and look, here's a report from a very reliable geek of losing all his purchased music when he updated. Great.

I'll always prefer OS X to Windows (writing this in Explorer in XP only confirms that), but I guess I'm just tired of Apple "fixing" things that ain't broke. Meanwhile I'm still waiting for some better features in Address Book. I also wish their different departments would get together a little more. They work so hard to make everything look the same, but it doesn't function the same way. Letting us organize iTunes playlists and iCal calendars into folders? Brilliant. How about letting us do the same with Address Book groups and iPhoto albums? Holding down Option in Address Book highlighs any groups the selected contact is in. Why doesn't that work with playlists in iTunes? For my money, it's all better than the Microsoft alternatives, but why can't it be better still?

I had to upgrade my iTunes to keep using the Music Store, which also irks me - the lack of choice to just keep using what I was happy with. Is iTunes 7 slow because I don't have an Intel Mac? Probably. Will I have to buy Tabby to get updates to the bundled software? Definitely. Will it run slowly on my G4? Possibly. Will I be irritated? For sure. Will something shiny catch my eye and make me forget I was cranky today? Who are we kidding - of course!

(Yup, still on the cold meds.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Soup's Off

After three blissful weeks away from any sort of gainful employment, I was supposed to go back to Foreign Law Firm yesterday. So naturally, I woke up with a terrible sore throat and called in sick. Look, if my body doesn't want to go to work so badly that it got sick, who am I to argue?

The cold has migrated north a bit, so that I no longer fear air conditioning and can muddle through work with DayQuil, so today's crisis is that I'm craving soup. I never crave soup. I'm mistrustful of soup. I'm not sure why I fear drinking my lunch, but I do. I mean, you never know what's going to be in soup, do you? I ordered chicken noodle at Pax once and it had like ten different vegetables in it. Potatoes! You know what I expect to find in chicken noodle soup? Chicken and noodles. And I don't think my hatred of celery is unusual (it's not like I'm some freak who hates chocolate), so why do people think it's okay to just stick little stealthy bits of celery in things? This goes for tuna salad too! Anyway, I went to check out the soups at Daily Soup and there was something called "chicken pot pie." Because eating a pot pie with a knife and fork takes too much effort? You need it mushed up in a bowl?

I ordered the chicken noodle but I haven't tried it yet. It's looking at me funny, like it's up to no good. Shifty, I tell you!

Maybe it's time to lay off the DayQuil.

Monday, September 11, 2006

"It isn't a train wreck – it moves too slowly." –IMDB review

Months ago, a friend of mine gave me a VHS copy of the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special (I don't ask where she gets such things), and it took me until now to muster up the courage to watch it.

The most offensive thing about it is not that it's almost entirely in wookie – essentially a very lengthy, fuzzy, pantomime. It's not the painfully dull sequences having nothing to do with the "plot," of wookies watching TV. It's not that each of those sequences features Harvey Korman, including one where he's a 6-armed Julia Child. It's not the recycled footage every time they need a shot of a space ship or Darth Vader. It's not the way the film's cast members were forced to whore themselves out with dialogue worse than in Episode I. It's not the tasty treat called "wookie-ookies." It's not the virtual reality musical/sexual fantasy Chewbacca's dad has about Diahnn Carroll. It's not that Bea Arthur plays the bartender and sings a Kander-and-Ebb-style number to the tune of the Cantina song. It's not that Bob Mackie did the costumes. It's not that I expect better from Bruce Villanch. It's not even Carrie Fisher's singing.

It's that Chewbacca's father and son are named Itchy and Lumpy.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Um, hi?

I wish Faustus would warn me when he links to me so I can write a good post for the top of the page.

Yeah, not so much.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Fall season has to start NOW so I stop watching this crap.

Okay, two questions about Breaking Up with Shannen Doherty.

One: What the hell happened to Shannen Doherty?? I mean, sure, no one likes you and your career has never been stellar, but how did it come to this?

Two: When your girlfriend has not only dumped you on television, but enlisted the help of Brenda Walsh, what would posess you to sign the release form afterwards?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Oh, TV, how will you disappoint me this time?

The first new TV show of the fall season that I'm interested in is on tonight, so it seems like a good time to tell you what I'm watching. I haven't done much of this sort of blogging lately, but I'm in the mood.

It's a light season for me, which I'm generally pleased about. I like my TV (probably more than most) but I'm happy to not overdo it. A lot of things I've watched for years ended last spring, leaving me with a pretty clean slate for the fall. And there are a few shows I'm curious about but that I don't expect to actually enjoy in the long run, and a few more that I don't think will last long (which means I'll probably love them). So here's my schedule...


Sunday
The Simpsons
Family Guy
Desperate Housewives
Really nothing to say about any of those, except that I hope that Housewives sucks less this year.


Monday
The Class
This will probably suck, but it has some actors I like, mostly from theater stuff, so I want to check it out. It's an interesting premise (3rd grade classmates reunite 20 years later) but not necessarily...what's the word? ...funny.
How I Met Your Mother
I'm still sort of amazed by how this show has hooked me. I watched the first couple of episodes and wasn't impressed (though I like the entire cast) but when Entertainment Weekly wouldn't shut up about how good it was I watched again towards the end of the season and loved it.
Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip
How can I not watch something written by Aaron Sorkin?
Heroes
Geektastic! I may hate it. Comic booky stuff is hit-or-miss with me. But Alias' Greg Grunberg is in it, which is a total plus.


Tuesday
Standoff
Eh. I'm pretty sure I won't make it past two episodes of this, but I really like Gina Torres. I like her less in a thankless supporting role though, so we'll see.
House
House is a show, like Law and Order and CSI, that I enjoy but don't feel the need to watch regularly. But I might add it to my regular rotation this season, at least as long as I'm not working nights and it doesn't take up DVR space.


Wednesday
Justice
I must watch anything Victor Garber does, but do we really need another lawyer show? Or Kerr Smith?
Jericho
Looks spectacularly creepy. I give it a month.
Lost
I was eh on it for most of last season, but the last couple of episodes sucked me back in. Besides, I'd never not watch it; what would I talk about with the rest of the world?
The Nine
Intrigued by the high concept, but afraid it will end up being very dull. And if it's not dull, will it get cancelled so we never get to find out what happened?
30 Rock
How can I not watch something written by and starring Tina Fey? (Does anyone else think it's strange that this and Studio 60 are both on NBC?)
Project Runway
I never really blogged about how I became obsessed with Runway last season. It's just too damn good. I'm hardly the first person to say this, but I love that they actually have to make things ever week, not run a relay race underwater and then solve a giant jigsaw puzzle using island trivia. I'm sure there's some consideration of what personalities will make for good TV in casting and elimination, but ultimately they have to design and make clothes with minimal time and resources. I sometimes get lost in the high fashion stuff, but as Tim says, it's all about taste. And Tim's podcasts are brilliant, especially when he talks about things that were edited out or how the show is made.



Thursday
Ugly Betty
I know very little about this except that it's called Ugly Betty. That's enough to get me to watch it once!
Six Degrees
Could be interesting. Or it could be like every single mediocre young-people-in-New-York indie film ever made. As Salon put it, "A character-driven drama in which the characters aren't all that compelling."


Friday
Battlestar Galactica
Duh!


Really, for me, this isn't much (except for Wednesday)! And I expect it will be cut in half by the end of October. But since I have very little to do right now, yay TV!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Define "celebrity"

Okay, I'm not admitting that I just watched two hours of Celebrity Duets, but if I had I'd blog about how it seems a little unfair to have Jai Rodriguez, who is, in fact, an actual singer and before Queer Eye was a rising musical theater star, competing with the likes of Cheech Marin and Hal Sparks.

Actually, at least four of the eight contestants have appeared on Broadway. Of course, these days, being a talented singer is not a prerequisite for getting cast in a Broadway musical if your name is any kind of recognizable, but I find it odd that they don't mention that in their little video bios on the show.

The whole thing is just a train wreck. And you know I'm gonna watch it again next week.

...and your chicks for free

Today I received my Workforce New York Direct Payment Card in the mail. The New York State Department of Labor, in its infinite wisdom, is doing away with unemployment checks next week, and instead has given everyone with a current claim a Chase debit card and an account that's not quite a real bank account into which our money will be deposited.

Now, I'm sure this will save a lot of money and tons of paper for the state. And, not to stereotype, but I'm sure a lot of people on unemployment don't have bank accounts and until now have had to rely on those check cashing places with their high fees. And I should never complain when someone gives me money for not working.

But I don't care about any of that, I only care about how this affects ME. I do have a bank account, so now rather than just walking to an ATM and depositing my check, I have to go to a different ATM (lest I pay a fee), and not even get all the money out 'cause it's not like the unemployment "check" is in multiples of 20, or even whole dollars, then I have to wait in line at my bank 'cause you can't deposit cash in an ATM and I pay all my bills online so I need the money in the account. So this little innovation has turned a simple transaction into a huge inconvenience for me.

Since you can file all your unemployment stuff online anyway, would it have really been so hard for them to just start doing normal direct deposit, and offer the Chase account to people who need it? Is there some way I can blame Governor Pataki for this?

Monday, August 28, 2006

You take the good, you take the bad...

Good: Extra 7 trains running due to a Mets game and the US Open.

Bad: An off-peak train being packed with drunk baseball and tennis fans.

Back to life

The detox begins today. I was shockingly good this summer. I didn't exercise nearly as much as I wanted to, and I carbed out daily (let's not even discuss the beer intake), but I managed to not gain nearly as much weight as I did last year.

And then I came home. And spent a week sitting on the couch. Eating nothing but take-out. It's amazing how fat one can get in just seven days. I mean, really amazing.

I'm still off this week (and by "off," I mean "unemployed," but I'm taking a couple weeks to enjoy not working and not even looking for anything), but I'm changing my routine and using my free time for good. No carbs, and I'm going to the gym every day. Stop laughing! I'm serious, dammit!

Oh yeah, and I want to blog more too, so I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

"I find that A) tremendously comforting that we're so close and B) like Chinese water torture that we're so close."

Back around 1996 or so - the end of the Internet Stone Age - I became mildly addicted to a site called sixdegrees.com. Sixdegrees did one thing and one thing only: it showed connections between people. It was all text, with no photos or profiles or anything like that. Very simply, you typed in someone's email address and indicated how you knew him (friend, coworker, family, etc.). Your friend got an email asking him to confirm, and if he did, you were linked. The site would then show all your connections. I was fascinated by it. I often looked up someone I knew, and discovered they were on the site and we were already connected through three or four different paths. The first degree on my end of each of those paths would be unique, and I knew for a fact that those people had never met each other. Six degrees indeed.

With no services beyond entertaining procrastinating college students to offer, Sixdegrees.com folded in a year or two. But when Friendster came along using the same networking idea it didn't take me long to get hooked on that too. It's a fantastic way to while away the hours temping, and since I'm constantly working with new people, I always have new people to stalk search for. Plus, having lots of "friends" gives me an amazing feeling of validation. Really, it's like the perfect website for me.

But now Friendster's not cool any more. Well, I don't think it was ever cool, which makes it all the more baffling that MySpace has become the website. Why??? It's like the worst web design I've ever seen. I mean, ugly aside, which I guess is a matter of taste, I find the navigation counter-intuitive (Why isn't there a search box on every page like on Friendster? Why does it take so many clicks and endless page loads to add a friend?), the number of fictional profiles, profiles for TV shows and movies, and fake friend requests I get drives me nuts, and it's fucking slow. I guess I'm a web traditionalist, but I just don't want my networking site to play music or video at me. That's what YouTube is for. It also makes it harder to browse at work safely.

Oh yeah, and speaking of work, because MySpace asks and displays my sexual orientation (one of the few features I actually like, 'cause Friendster can be annoyingly vague on the subject), I get ads on the site for gay dating services full of shirtless, groping boys. Of course I'm a fan of shirtless, groping boys, but it's not exactly office-appropriate. And since they also ask for and display my relationship status, what's with all the dating ads anyway?

So, um, yeah, I've come to resent MySpace a little bit, because I'm hooked on the Friendster, and while it remains a pretty vibrant site (they've added most of the same extra features as MySpace, but in my opinion they've done it much more elegantly) people don't seem to be joining it like they used to. And I'm definitely a joiner, so I felt like I had to get on MySpace to stay... relevant? cool? validated? connected? All of the above, I suppose.

But wait! The Youth of America have proven themselves as fickle as ever, and there's already a new networking site making the rounds. As the name implies, Facebook is college-oriented, and I discovered it through my young friends at Undisclosed Location Summer Theater last year. It's got a very simple, attractive design, and lots of fun features for networking and playing. My favorite element is photo tagging – like all of these sites you can upload photos to an album, but Facebook lets you "tag" the photo to indicate who's in it. If those people are your "friends," the photo shows up in their profile too (you can remove tags of yourself if you don't like them). I mean, that's just cool. I also like that you get to tell it how you know someone (which the other person must confirm, of course), and there are many options including the tongue-in-cheek (I hope!) "We hooked up and it was _____. It went down in ____."

I gather that some of these kids just live on Facebook. You can update your "status," which most of my friends seem to use for jokes, or for general statements, but the defaults include "at work," "at a party," and "at the library," as if you're supposed to change it every time you go somewhere (I guess this isn't all that different from my other friends under 25 who leave their instant messenger on 24/7, with absurdly personal away messages, but that's another post).

So here's the problem. Well, two problems. One, I have very little to do right now, so I've gotten a little hooked on validating my self-worth by having lots of online friends in general, and Facebook in particular. Two, Facebook is, as I said, geared towards college students. They've added high schools and companies too, but to join you have to have a network, and an email address that matches that network. (There are geographical networks too, but you can only get into those after you've joined with another one.) I have an alumni address from my college, which is how I was able to join (and in fact how I got on in the first place, 'cause some of my interns last year harassed me about it), but my contemporaries are few and far between (my college class, 1997, has 12 people on Facebook; the class of 2001 has 71, and 2006 has over 500) and almost my entire network consists of people from the summer job. Like I needed another online addiction and something else to make me feel old! The sad thing is, I think it's be best of these sites.

So, readers, I beg of you: If you have a .edu address or your company is on the list, please join Facebook and help me feel popular enjoy this time-wasting networking website!

As a side note, with all the time I've been spending on FaceFriendSpace, I've outed myself as a blogger by putting Judgment Call in my profiles. I mean, really, everyone and his mother has a blog these days, it's hardly something that needs to be kept secret at work anymore. I don't plan to change the way I write – I'll still be vague about jobs and coworkers – but maybe some new people will click over here. (And hopefully the first post they see will be something less boring and geeky than this one!)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Whoa

The Face Transformer is fucking creepy.

Easier to quote others than to write myself

Real post to come, but first a fun meme via melz3000 and mcm.

It's simple enough: Go to the Random Quotes Generator and share "the first five quotes that reflect your outlook on life."

Well, I'm not sure I found my outlook on life (in fact I think I'm a little more cheerful than this), but these are the first five that stood out to me as re-quote-worthy.


The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.
-Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love.
-Charles M. Schulz (1922 - 2000), Charlie Brown in "Peanuts"

Whatever God's dream about man may be, it seems certain it cannot come true unless man cooperates.
-Stella Terrill Mann

Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets and then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again.
-Unknown, Marin County newspaper's TV listing for "The Wizard of Oz"

It is better to be quotable than to be honest.
-Tom Stoppard (1937 - )

Monday, August 21, 2006

Catching Up (by the numbers)

I've been home for about 19 hours.

In that time, I've watched 6 episodes of Project Runway (1 more to be all caught up) and 3 episodes of Battlestar Galactica (all caught up).

It's nice to know that all that time away from home hasn't changed me.

More updates to come!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Random Updates From The Wilderness

Dear Blog,

Camp is great! I love my bunkmates, and the activities are super! I thought it would be weird not having any girls around, but it's not at all!



...It's not exactly that I don't have time to write, it's that time seems to work differently here. It goes very very quickly, and in the blink of an eye I've opened and closed one show, started rehearsals for another, and haven't blogged in six weeks. But also a ridiculous amount of things happen in that blink of an eye (like opening and closing one show and starting rehearsals for another) in this weird accelerated drama queen wormhole.

I always forget what it's like to live with roommates, especially ones you work with. It's not unpleasant, but it makes it hard to get anything done. At home, I'm generally happy to go to work and come home without seeing anyone but Boy and Cat for days at a time. Here, there's a built-in and inescapable social life. I'm not complaining; it's a very enjoyable social life and it goes a long way towards mitigating the stress and exhaustion if the long hours and general sense of drama (there should be no drama, we're not doing brain surgery here, but when you put this many young, hyped-up theater people in one place for this long, things start to get a little bit like Romeo and Juliet, and I have a few people I'd like to throw off a balcony). But it does make it tricky to accomplish much outside of work. I could come home, go to my room, and play Liberty City or watch a DVD, but I just don't. I've only watched half a Netflick since I got here (and it was one I'd started at home), and have barely cracked season two of Battlestar Galactica, despite my obsessive tear through season one in the spring. I don't even mind that I'm missing Project Runway. Who am I??

I miss blogging, and writing for myself, but more than that I miss reading. I was falling behind on paper things even at home, but here I've not read any blogs, or Slate or Salon or Fametracker... any of my usually daily RSS fixes. I check in with Playbill every day because that's sort of work, and I get NYC news through a 5-minute podcast while I'm getting dressed. For the first few weeks I kept up with close friends' blogs, but I've even lost track of those now. I feel cut off, but the weird part is how little I really mind. With no commute, all but the shortest podcasts have piled up too.

...Though at the moment I no longer even have an iPod. My Precious was having some issues, but I thought it would make it at least to its second birthday in September. Then last week it crapped out entirely. My laptop was able to recognize it just enough to erase it (oh, sorry, Restore it), and then wasn't able to figure out how to put all my stuff back on it. Someone else here said the same thing happened to her, and the people at the Apple Store told her this model (the first click-wheels) has about a year-and-a-half lifespan. Annoying for something that cost almost $500, but I'm being pretty zen about it. I hardly use the thing here, except to listen to music in my room, and I can do that with the laptop almost as well. My birthday is in 2 weeks so I'm waiting patiently until then to get myself a black video one. I figure when I'm home I can go to the store and see if they can repair or replace it without charging an arm and a leg, and then I can sell it on eBay and come out close to even.

I don't even use my Palm here. Time has no meaning; every work day is pretty much the same (schedule-wise), and non-work stuff is fluid and rarely planned, so I've stopped carrying it around. Unfortunately, this means I miss things that I'd normally have on my to-do list, like paying the mortgage or sending someone a birthday card. And I inevitably forget to buy something at the grocery store because I don't have my lists. It's weird, like a part of my brain is missing.

We have a PS2 in the house, and I did once have visions of sitting on the porch with the PSP, but I've used both very little. When people start leaving and I have more free time (it sucks that those two things happen at exactly the same time), I suspect I'll play more. And maybe catch up on all that TV.

On the bright side, I put my flash drive through the laundry and it still works.

Adding to the weirdness of this place, there are about eight million kids here from my college. We're not known for our theater program, so I'm not used to running into alums at work. They're all around ten years younger than me. I'm used to feeling old here, but somehow knowing that I once took the same classes with the same teachers as these kids, lived in the same dorms, have this weird common language of student groups and building names even though we shouldn't have much in common makes me feel even older. I'm suddenly the elder statesman, the apex of these guys' networking abilities. That's not saying much, as our school is terrible about networking the theater kids, so I'm happy we're sort of starting one, but when did I go from complaining about not knowing anyone to being the guy other people want to know?

Last weekend Boy came up to visit, and then I drove him home and spent a few brief hours in NYC. It was sort of silly, since I spent almost as much time in the car as I did in the apartment, but it was lovely to sleep in my own bed, with an air conditioner and the cat (although the latter was quite indifferent to my return). I hate driving, but on the way back I realized I was truly alone for the first time in weeks. It was sort of exciting. And I guess I got over my general fear of cars, because I managed to get a speeding ticket.

Well, speaking of not having enough Me Time, I'm going to step away from the desk and enjoy what's left of this beautiful afternoon. Despite being in the middle of nowhere, the only nature I've encountered is stars and mosquitoes. But I hear rumors of something called the sun....

Thursday, June 15, 2006

5, 6, 7, 8

I'm writing from my Undisclosed Location at theater camp, which means Judgment Call has begun its unofficial summer hiatus. I'm hoping to write more than I did last summer, though. I've got a lot of posts planned and some even started. Though I've noticed a gradual evolution in The JC, and lately it's definitely been best when it's been spontaneous and brief, and not when I plan to write reviews or something like that. So we'll see. Only I have the power to make my blog not suck, and sometimes that may mean posting less often.

Some thoughts while I'm here though...

I got some posters from Despair.com for my office (this one and this one), and I'm astonished by how many people think they're real motivational posters. Sure, they look good from a distance, but a lot of these people know me very well, and I'm appalled that they would think I'd ever put something like that up. I also assume that anyone who knows me well also shares my sense of humor somewhat and knows about Despair.com. But I guess not. It's a little disheartening and I'm going to have to take them down if this keeps up. But finding mean wall hangings designed to crush your interns' spirit is more challenging than you might think.

I may be the worst packer in the world. As much as I love to organize things, I'm just bad at fitting my life into a small space. Packing to come here is tricky. It's almost the whole summer, not like a 2-week vacation, and the temperature here can have as much as a 30-degree spread throughout the day. I'm not staying in a hotel, so while some things are provided, some are most definitely not. And it's work, so I've got all sort of supplies with me. Fortunately I got a ride up in a company car and didn't have to suffer with the train, but it was still a little embarrassing rolling up with my two gigantic bags, both stuffed beyond capacity...and my backpack, and my kit, and my printer.... Now that it's all unpacked and put away though, it doesn't look like that much stuff, and that transformation just confuses me.

This morning I downloaded 80s Hits Stripped from iTunes and I can't recommend it strongly enough. It's acoustic recordings of 15 80s pop hits done mostly by the original artists (or at least a lead singer). I've always maintained that some of the best pop music ever was produced in the 80s, but a lot of genuine talent was hidden behind the synthesized sound of the time. I'm not claiming that Howard Jones is a genius singer-songwriter, but "No One Is To Blame" is a damn fine piano ballad. And those girls in Heart can really wail.

Okay, there's a whole lotta tap-dancing going on in this room (not to 80s music) and it's giving me a headache, so I'm off for now. Hey, in the world of work-induced headaches, I'll take tapping over construction, bad a/c, fluorescent lights and loud lawyers any day.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

"Don't worry. Woodale's about 25 miles west of those rabbits."

You all must stop what you're doing and rent Night of the Lepus right now. Giant bunnies, people! By which I mean actual, normal-sized, utterly adorable bunnies shot on miniature sets and badly blue-screened. And, y'know, giant or not, it's really hard to make bunnies look menacing. But oh, how the filmmakers try! The tension built by the sound of a herd of bunnies approaching is amazing. Hippity... hoppity... hippity... hoppity... hippity hoppity hippity hoppity!!!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall

Subways aside, why does rain make people so stupid?

Boy and I went to the theater on Friday night, and when we got out there was a horde of old ladies standing under the marquee going, "Wow, it's really coming down!" "It's pouring!" "Oooh, water's falling from the sky!" It had been raining all day, so most of them had umbrellas, they were just apparently baffled.

"Yes," I said loudly, "it's pouring, and you're also blocking the door!"

Tonight we got caught in another downpour, this time on the way home. Remember, our train line is outside, so it's not like the rain was catching anyone by surprise. And all the way down the stairs to the street, there it was on either side of us. And yet three people reached the bottom step and stopped dead in their tracks. Which meant, of course, that I walked right into them. What did you think was going to happen? You'd get to the bottom and the waters would part for you?? I understand if you don't want to get wet, but couldn't you wait it out somewhere that's not in my way???

Friday, June 02, 2006

Dear MTA...again,

Wouldn't it be nice if, here in the 21st century, in the greatest city in the world, we had a public transit system that didn't completely shut down when it rains??

It's not like the inconvenient truth of climate change has suddenly cause rain to fall in New York City for the first time in 100 years. It rains all the damn time. And I'm pretty sure the ancient Romans perfected that whole drainage thing.

Still hating,
Adam875

Dearest MTA,

I know that the New York subway system is very complicated and technical, and things may occasionally break. Though if the DOT had "signal trouble" as often as you seem to, there would be thousands of car crashes in the city every day and mayhem would ensue. But okay, you had some signal trouble at 2:00 on a Friday morning, after I'd waited in the sweltering Times Square station for half an hour for a train in the first place. I respect that. Could your train operators possibly have informed us of the fact that the train would not, in fact, be taking me all the way home before we had passed the point where there were no other trains to transfer to? I have options, I just didn't know I'd need to use them.

Or perhaps the conductor was actually playing a cruel practical joke. You see, he told us the train would be terminating at Woodside and heading back to Manhattan. He told us we could get paper transfers "in the token booth area" which would get us onto a bus that would follow the train's route. Thing is, there were no paper transfers, the booth clerk knew nothing about it, and there was no sign of any sort of bus.

Oh but wait, MTA, it gets better. While a hundred or so people waited in confusion on the street below, the train continued going east into Queens and not back to Times Square at all. Remember, it's an elevated station and all the people you just stranded can see you.

So I headed back up to the station, thinking maybe we could salvage our relationship and you'd redeem yourself for your betrayal. Or instead I could sit there for 45 minutes - before giving up and throwing myself on the hood of a passing livery cab - while an inconceivable number of trains passed in the other direction, none of them ever returning to take me home.

What's that, MTA? You say this isn't a very good blog entry? Well, no, I suppose it's not, but maybe that's because I didn't get home until four o-fucking-clock in the morning. And whose fault might that be?

Hey, I know, go on strike again. You've clearly earned a vacation after all this hard work.

I hate you.

Yours,
Adam875

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Oops

Speaking of people who don't know how to use elevators....


(Link has been fixed)

Dear People Who Don't Know How Elevators Work,

It's a simple enough concept, really. If you're going up, you push the up button. If you're going down, you push the down button. They actually do not do the same thing, and pressing them both will get you to your destination slower, not faster.

See, it's like this: The elevator, being part of the race of machines that will someday kill us all and take over the world, knows which way you're going by the button you've pressed, and it will stop and pick you up on its way there. So let's say you're on the first floor and you want to go up. And I (hypothetically, of course) am headed from my apartment to the basement for some quality time in the laundry room. Now, if you have pressed the down button because you're a moron, the elevator will stop in the lobby before taking me to the basement. But you're going in the other direction so this does you no good, it merely delays us both. Then we have to have that awkward moment (further delays) while you open the door, see me with my laundry bag, and go "Going down?" before deliberating about whether to ride with me or wait here. And if you choose the former, the elevator is going to stop in the lobby again anyway because you've already pushed the up button.

How is this helpful? Someone very smart devised this little system and the microchips that run it, why must you ruin everything and make me even more impatient than I naturally am by being a dumbass? Do you press both buttons because you're impatient? 'Cause you're only making things worse.

Then, when you follow me to the office, do you not see the giant gold letters that say which banks of elevators go to which floors? And more importantly, have you never actually been in a tall building before? Because while your bafflement and not finding the numbers 2 through 17 on the panel of buttons inside the elevator can be mildly amusing if you don't manage to figure it out until after the doors have closed, it's really irritating when you yell "Oh!" and stop the doors so you can run out, never considering that I might be late for work and/or desperately have to pee.

Can't we teach this stuff in school?

I love my job

Phone conversation from yesterday afternoon:

Me: Good afternoon, Foreign Law Firm.
Her: Is this Sterling National Bank?
Me: No, I'm sorry, you have the wrong number.
Her: EH??
Me: Excuse me?
Her: Is this Sterling National Bank?
Me: No. It's not.
Her: What??
Me: You have the wrong number.
Her: But I just got the number from the operator!
Me: I'm sorry but this is Foreign Law Firm. We're a law firm.
Her (Clearly to someone else): These people don't know what they're talking about.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dear Fat Guy on the Train This Morning,

I know those silly contoured seats on the subway aren't fair to any real person's ass. And yes, there was an empty seat on either side of me. But that does NOT give you the right to sit on me. Seriously, dude, no "excuse me" or anything? Just BAM, that's my fucking thigh, thank you very much, but apparently you're too absorbed in The Da Vinci Code to notice. So what happens then? I move over, of course, but the woman on my right has an overflowing ass as well, so I end up sitting in-between the seat I was in before your kamikaze attack and the one next to it. Okay, none of us is as thin as we might like to be, but compared to the two of you I'm Nicole fucking Ritchie, so how did I end up being the guy who's taking up two seats with the ridge between them wedged firmly up my butt crack??

Oh, it's going to be another one of those days....

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I sort of hate to ask it...

Apparently, I have some pent-up aggression today, as I learned at Duane Reade when the cashier asked me to take the items out of my basket and I just glared at her for a minute.

But seriously, what's the point of this? You can't lift my bottle of vitamins out of the basket and scan it just as easily as you can lift it off the counter and scan it? I mean, if anything, the basket gives you half an inch less lifting to do! Then she ignored the fact that I was holding out my club card (usually they ask for it before I can even set my basket down, let alone get my wallet out). Then, when we were done, she muttered something about the basket (which was still sitting on the counter) and motioned noncommittally with her hand. I gathered that she wanted me to put the basket away (as if I worked there and this were my job), so I tossed it into the basket that was on the floor next to me, thinking that's where they went. "NO!" she suddenly yelled, "Over THERE!" Her hand gesture wasn't any clearer than before but I gathered she meant by the door, from where I'd first gotten the basket.

"Sorry," I said, not sorry at all, "there was one here already so I thought - "

"Just because there was one there doesn't mean that's where they go! I SAID to put it over THERE!"

"I didn't HEAR you," I said, articulating carefully but not yelling, "and I thought this was where they went. I'll take BOTH of them on my way out." And I did. I walked by a manager as I did so, but decided to be the bigger man and not say anything.

I mean, I don't want to be the rude customer, and I'm sure your job sucks and you have to deal with fuckwits all day, but how about a little courtesy and professionalism, huh? I just didn't realize I'd gotten on the self-serve line at the drug store.